Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Faithful Remnant: Singing the Lord's songs in a foreign land - Daniel 1

Here beginneth a few observations from the book of Daniel - I'm reading through it as part of my devotions at present, and also using the commentary by Stuart Olyott (in the Welwyn Series)... so when I have opportunity, I'll write a bit on each chapter.

Daniel opens with the story of the exile, when King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon destroyed the city of Jersualem, and carried off the cream of the young men of Judah. These he would train up for three years in all the literature and language of the Chaldeans, before being released into his service.

And so, we find that four young men are taken, their names being Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Daniel, you probably know the name of, but the other three you'll probably know better as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Those were the names given to them as part of the re-programming, to make them no longer Jews, but good Babylonians. Daniel's other name was Belteshazzar. All four of their original names have elements of YAHWEH in them - the name of the Lord God Almighty, but their new names were dedications to the Babylonian gods.

Yet Daniel and the boys decided that they would remain faithful to God, despite being in a foreign land, and under the pressures of living in an opporessive culture. They resolved to not eat the food from the king's table - which had been sacrificed to the gods. Instead, they would eat just vegetables and drink water.

The chief boyo that was looking after them was sore afeared, because, as he pointed out, if you look worse after the ten days trial than the other candidates, then it'll be my head on the chopping block... But they found favour in his eyes, and he allowed to them to do as they wished.

And at the end of the ten days? They were better in appearance, and more healthier than the rest! So they were allowed to continue eating their vegetables and drinking their water. And then, at the end of their three years trial, they were brought in front of Nebuchadnezzar, for the final testing. And the faithful remnant, the four boys were found to be ten times better then all the magicians and enchanters that were in the kingdom - that is, the established ones, not just their fellow candidates!

The end result was that they were put into key positions in the state, because being faithful to God in small matters is rewarded with the opportunity to be faithful in larger matters. We'll see how they fared through the exile.

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